Tuesday Tales: From the Word CARTON

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Summer’s here!  Welcome sun and heat. Great day today. Eldest grandson graduated from eighth grade, his youngest sister, sixth grade. Where have the years gone?

As far as my writing goes, we’re still in winter and in France as story lines converge. Today’s word is CARTON, and since to most of us that describes a cardboard box. Since that material didn’t come into use until the nineteenth century, and we’re in the seventeenth, I needed a little poetic license. Mea culpa, but I’m also 30 words over the limit. Enjoy.

Murielle stepped outside, her mind awash with memories of the past and her girls. Lyon was very different from Caen, where the scent of the ocean, never very far away, permeated the air. The smaller dowager house, the edifice her uncle had chosen as his home now that he was on his own, was twenty minutes away, as the crow flies. Moving at a steady pace, she had plenty of time to enjoy her walk in the cool, crisp, clean air before assuming her hostessing duties tonight.

The full moon shone down on the rough stone path, turning it into an enchanted river of silver running between the trees. The pear orchard marked the western limits of the original estate. Many years ago, when her grandfather had wed, her grandmother’s dowry had included the lands below the small cliff, those now covered in vines, where his house was located. Her uncle’s estates produced some of the finest wines in the region.

She stopped and glanced over her shoulder. From this small rise, she could see the main house, the lights ablaze in the windows. As she neared the crest of the slight hill, the ruins of an ancient pagan temple rose out of the darkness, but here, the silvering effect was strangely chilling.

As a child, on those rare family occasions when everyone had gathered to celebrate a birth or a marriage, mourn a death, or enjoy a holiday together, despite warnings not to, she’d played among the stones, remnants of a civilization long gone—Gauls? Romans? Or another barbarian invader who’d sought to claim the land as his own? But she’d never ventured even this close to it alone at night. According to her grandmother’s tales, in the darkness, the spirit of those who’d lived and suffered at the hands of their oppressors, walked the ruins again, bemoaning their fate.

Tonight, she sensed her grandmother’s words rang true. Eyes she couldn’t see watched her, watched the house. The sensation made her flesh crawl. Stepping along at a brisker pace, a whiff of fetid fish filled her nostrils.

“Foolish old woman,” she grumbled. “Your mind’s still at Caen. Not rotted fish, but a carton of decayed fruit someone forgot in the rush of the harvest.” She shook her head at her own foolishness. “Mon Dieu!” The words came out on a rush as a shadow moved. “Who’s there? Show yourself.”

An owl hooted, it’s great wings flapping overhead. Crossing herself, Murielle hurried her footsteps, praying she wouldn’t slip and fall before being well and truly away from this accursed place.

That’s it. Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

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